"Tun bɛ" vs "tun ye" meaning with verbs

I am wondering about the use of tun bɛ and tun ye.
Tun bɛ can be roughly translated to English as was or can be expressed as being marking the past existence of something like when we say a tun bɛ yan.
What is the meaning when we use tun with ye or is tun used just to mark the past of something in the simple past like something that was ongoing in the past?
I hear often tun being used in sentences not always paired with .
I believe the difference between tun bɛ vs tun ye is the type of past. Can you say a tun ye yan ? I don’t think so… but can say a ye dumuni kɛ. Therefore ye is used for a past tense of action rather than existance…
If we tried to say a tun ye dumuni kɛ what would that mean? To me it sound like the l’imparfait in French.

Hi Malik!

Tun is a special word known as the “retrospective marker” that puts things into a special frame of the past.

It can be used in non-verbal sentences (the ones that use special copulas: presentatives, equatives, qualitative verbs, and situatives). For instance:

N ka janN tun ka jan

‘I am tall’ → ‘I was tall’


An bɛ Mali laAn tun bɛ Mali la

‘We are in Mali’ → ‘We were in Mali’

And so on…

It can also be used with normal verbs (like, ka taa, k’à dun) regardless of their predicate marker or auxiliary (“ye”, “bɛ”, “bɛna”, etc.):

For instance:

N bɛ taaN tun bɛ taa

‘I go’ → ‘I was going’


Malik ye loko dunMalik tun ye loko dun

‘Malik ate the plantain’ → ‘Malik had eaten the plaintain’

So to answer the question which I see in your post, À tun ye dumuni kɛ would mean something like ‘He had eaten’ as opposed to À ye dumuni kɛ which would could be translated as “He ate” or “He has eaten” depending on the context.

PS - I’ll hopefully do a video about “tun” soon!